There’s something to be said for poorly timed remarks, but it’s another thing to display a flagrantly insensitive contempt for political realities.
Example one: Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who shouted “You lie!” during a speech by President Barack Obama. He’s become a hero to tea party activists for his outburst, even in spite of a voting record showing lock-step support of President George W. Bush’s least fiscally responsible policies.
With Congress and the media making much of the conflagration of guns and political speech in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Arizona that killed six and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the head, it was almost inevitable someone would capitalize on the moment.
A guns retailer outside of Colombia, South Carolina has begun selling a lower receiver for the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, a firearm commonly used by the US military, engraved with Wilson’s infamous words.
“Only 999 of these will be produced, get yours before they are gone!” the Palmetto State Armory declared.
The paper also noted that while the company had no official endorsement from Rep. Wilson, a photograph of the congressman holding a firearm was also hosted on their website. That image was also removed, but similarly saved by Google.
The Free Times noted that Palmetto State Armory president Jamie McCallum was the designer of the firearm component. The photo of Wilson also apparently shows McCallum, with text that reads, “To my good friend Jamie McCallum, I appreciate your friendship. Best wishes, Joe Wilson.”
“The only reaction I have to the Arizona shooting is sorrow for the victims and their families and a disbelief that a human being could carry out an act like this,” McCallum reportedly said in an exchange with the Free Times. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. The loss of life is a tragic event and we should do our best to support those who are grieving.”
The timing for such a product was incredibly poor, especially with President Obama being invited to Charleston to mark the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter.
The Battle of Fort Sumter began after Confederate forces, having attempted to starve Union troops out of their garrison, finally committed themselves to the violence that formally initiated the bloodiest period in American history.
Will Moredock, a columnist in Charleston, has publicly pleaded for President Obama to stay away from Charleston on April 12, arguing that it could prove to be a serious — if not fatal — mistake.
“I will be blunt: I think the president might be in danger if he came to this historically loaded city on that emotionally loaded date,” he wrote. “I am confident his security team could protect him from almost any eventuality, but I see no point in inviting an “incident” that would embarrass the state and haunt the city for years to come.”
Rep. Wilson shouted “You lie!” during President Obama’s state of the union address in 2009, reacting to a pledge that his health reform laws would not extend taxpayer dollars to cover illegal immigrants.
Despite the congressman’s outburst, the health reform laws explicitly prohibit illegal immigrants from joining insurance exchanges or qualifying for Medicaid.
Wilson was re-elected in 2010 with 54 percent of the votes in his district.